The Most Common Addiction Relapse Triggers and How to Avoid Them

Addiction recovery comes with various challenges and obstacles. One of them involves dealing with many emotional and physical “cues” that come about as you go through your daily life. This then results in relapse and drug dependence a new.

The cues are also known as triggers because like the trigger to the gun, it activates your substance addiction and drug-induced bad habits that you’ve been attempting to kick out of your system. They manifest in persons on a case-by-case basis.

What is an Addiction Relapse Trigger?

An addiction relapse trigger is a social, environmental, or emotional circumstance that drags out or pulls up memories of your past engaging in substance abuse or drug and alcohol use. Such painful memories can stir inside you strong emotions.

From there, those feelings can influence your impulses enough to fall back on bad habits involving drug abuse.

Table of Common Relapse Triggers

Triggers don’t automatically push you to the edge but it’s a slippery slope and they do make it more difficult to resist the temptations and cravings they produce. To wit, here are the 10 most common relapse triggers in brief that you should be on the lookout for.

Relapse Triggers Causes and Circumstances How to Avoid Them
Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired (HALT) The sensation of hunger and exhaustion as well as the emotions of anger and loneliness happen to everyone. You can’t avoid these triggers, but you can reframe them in your mind so that they won’t trigger you into a relapse.

Don’t cope with physical sensations like tiredness and hunger with drugs but by actually sleeping and eating right.

Challenging Emotions Challenging emotions like anger, loneliness or sadness, outright depression, trauma, guilt, and so for is part of the human experience. Negative emotions can’t be avoided. What you can avoid or resist is using drug abuse as your coping mechanism against them.

Address your negative emotions then reframe the way you’d react to them (with CBT or meditation).

Stress Stress is present when dealing with major life paradigm shifts like moving to a new neighborhood or grieving after the deceased loved one. Drug abuse is one of the ways people might cope with stress.

To avoid using drugs as your coping mechanism, you should employ new coping skills and undergo preventive self-care.

Overconfidence in Recovery A measure of self-confidence is good. Overconfidence is bad. Don’t underestimate addiction because it’s a chronic condition. You should have a measure of self-awareness of how chronic addiction can prevent risky behavior.

Always be on guard with yourself. Just say no to drugs or alcohol with every fiber of your being.

Physical or Mental Illness Both mental illnesses like depression and chronic pain from cancer or diabetes can stress your body to the point of taking drugs for the first time or relapsing after rehab when you’re already addicted. Ask your mental health specialist or doctor to get you non-addictive prescriptions to cope with your physical or mental illness.

They might even find you safer alternatives that won’t serve as relapse triggers.

Social Isolation Regarding social isolation, that can trigger drug usage because no man is an island.

No person can cope being alone since humans are social creatures instead of lone wolves.

Many treatments like the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program involve counseling with former alcoholics in order to help recovering alcoholics recover the same way they did.

These sponsors can help you even with rehab aftercare to prevent relapse.

Romantic Relationships Romantic relationships on the rocks or have already ended can cause devastating tides of ever-changing emotion that makes you feel lost at sea or out of control.

Both of these feelings are powerful relapse triggers.

You don’t need to remain single forever but don’t jump into getting a rebound relationship while the wounds of your previous relationship is still fresh.

Your new partner doesn’t deserve being used as your healing balm while you’re recovering from lost love and addiction.

New Jobs and Promotions
You might be tempted to use drugs again “just this once” in order to celebrate your recovery and success in getting your life together at last. Be on your guard. Major paradigm shifts, even constructive ones, can lead to devastating relapses.

This is especially true of former addicts who associate good things with drug use.

Nostalgia for Substance Abuse You might find yourself nostalgic for using drugs or drinking alcohol, especially if it’s your main means of socializing and functioning as an adult. If you find yourself longing for the “good ol’ days” of drinking or using drugs, depend on your support system to get you out of your risky state of mind.
Places and Situations Where Drugs Are Available
Once you go back home after a successful rehab, you might again end up in the same friend circles and hangouts that led you to accessing drugs in the first place. Put yourself in a secluded area where loved ones are nearby in order to prevent yourself from going back to bad habits or places where you can get drugs.

Make a list of potential suppliers and enablers to prevent them from “corrupting” you back to substance abuse.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic brain disease or condition like diabetes. Both diabetes and addiction share a similar relapse rate after treatment, actually. When patients cease treatment for such conditions, they’re more likely to relapse back to old drug-related habits.

The long-term use of alcohol or drugs builds associations in a person’s psyche of drug usage and his daily routine. What are objectively normal experiences, feelings, and phenomena are somehow tinged with drug cravings as a result.

The Two Types of Triggers

The two types of triggers that could lead to relapse are internal and external triggers. External triggers involve external stimuli while internal triggers deal more with how you personally react or cope with such stimuli.

External triggers are easier to identify since they occur outside of you, like activities, things, places and people. Internal triggers involve complex feelings within yourself and your mental health.

The Top 10 Most Common Relapse Triggers

There are multiple categories of addiction relapse triggers. They fall into a multitude of groups. They can be mental, emotional, or environmental. A single trigger can belong to multiple categories.

As such, it’s best to discuss the 10 most common relapse triggers instead since that’s a more practical way to deal with them. This guide will also outline quick tips on how to best avoid them from pushing you to the brink.

  1. HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired: The HALT acronym helps recovering patients to keep an eye out on basic human needs and how they can be associated with drug use if they have a long history of such.

    Something as simple as experiencing hunger, anger, loneliness, or exhaustion can lead to or intensify your tendency to relapse if they remain unfulfilled. You should constructively address them so that they won’t serve as your slippery slope to relapse.

    A recovering addict under any one of the states of HALT has reduced ability to cope with stress, which increases their impulsiveness that could translate to them reverting to drug usage when push comes to shove.

    First off, practice mindfulness or self-awareness. Second, seek social support. Third, stick to a regular sleep and feeding schedule. Find ways to fulfill feelings of loneliness or to address anger in constructive ways instead of coping with drugs.

  2. Challenging Emotions:Along with loneliness and anger, other challenging emotions can challenge your ability to cope against cravings in your path to recovery and sobriety.

    Sadness and guilt as well as anger and loneliness can serve as root causes of why people become substance abusers when all is said and done. When such feelings crop up once more, the brain remembers dealing with them with alcohol or drugs.

    Resist the temptation to use by learning to cope with these unavoidable negative emotions in a way that doesn’t involve drugs. The therapy lessons you’ve learned from mindful meditation and CBT can assist you here.

  3. Stress: Stress happens whenever you’re pressured to do something in school or work, like the pressure to get high grades or excel in your job enough to gain a promotion. Both acute and chronic stress can increase drug addiction risk.

    Therefore, they might be one of the most common relapse triggers. In your daily life, you will encounter stress in one form or another. Stress will naturally occur when undergoing changes or picking up the pieces of your life after rehab.

    Even tense relations with family members can cause stress as well. Other events such as increased responsibility as a single mother or facing health problems (your own or others) can trigger drug cravings for coping purposes.

    To deal with stress in a positive manner, employ the coping skills you’ve learned in rehab, like yoga or exercise. You should also practice preventive self-care to minimize the stress in your life. You don’t have to be stressed.

  4. Overconfidence in Recovery: Another high risk situation that can trigger relapse after rehab is being overconfident. Remember, pride comes before the fall. Recovery is a journey that’s as continuous as life and existence.

    Many people erroneously believe that after rehab, they’ve been cured from relapse. You should be more worried about triggers during that sensitive gap between rehab and sobriety.

    The temptation to take just “one” drink or smoke just “one” joint can lead to you going back to square one. In short, always be on your guard. The slippery slope might be a logical fallacy in debate.

    However, it’s a true phenomenon when it comes to rehab, recovery, and aftercare. Just say no to drugs and be aware that one drink or smoke can lead to a domino effect towards outright relapse.

  5. Physical or Mental Illness:As Miracles Asia’s dual diagnosis of co-occurring mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (formerly known as shellshock) shows, mental illness and addiction go hand-in-hand.

    They might even be one of the many causes (along with genetic predisposition) that led you to becoming dependent on addictive substances. Chronic pain and physical illness can make you dependent on painkillers for relief as well.

    When you see a psychiatrist, psychologist, doctor, or mental health specialist, make them aware that you’re in addiction recovery. This way, you can prevent them from giving you addictive drug prescriptions.

    They might even help you seek medication alternatives that won’t trigger your relapse so much. Maybe you can undergo something natural, holistic, or esoteric.

  6. Social Isolation: It’s important for your recovery to form a support system and engage socially. However, it can be quite exhausting for anyone, even extroverts, to engage socially for a prolonged period of time. Introverts especially are prone to retreating back into their shell and dealing with their recovery alone.

    This can result in mounting loneliness and prolonged isolation. Without being around other people like doctors or fellow patients, it’s easier for your body to rationalize drug and alcohol use while you’re in your lonesome.

    Dealing with social anxiety is par for the course with addiction rehab and recovery. Therefore, you should get assistance from a trusted friend or sponsor to prevent isolation and its triggering effects.

    A sponsor is usually a former addict who went through the same rehab program as you did who volunteered to in turn help new patients get through the same road to recovery he or she went through.

  7. Romantic Relationships:Anyone who’s broken up with their lover or spouse knows the emotional fortitude needed to move on with their life. It can be a great paradigm shift to switch from being spoken for to being a single person once more.

    What’s more, this can be doubled with the upheaval caused by addiction recovery. This can be a double-whammy if the reason for your breakup was because of your addiction disease, thus making it hard to let go once your relationship is truly over.

    Take things one at a time. Deal with yourself first before unpackaging the loneliness and pain of losing the love of a romantic partner. Therefore, during the first year of recovery, it might be for the best to remain single.

    Your headspace is at a vulnerable spot right now. It might not take rejection well. Furthermore, finding a new love so soon can lead to a rebound relationship. Lay of relationships for now for your own good.​

  8. New Jobs and Promotions: Mind you, positive events can serve as addiction relapse triggers as much as negative events. Landing a new job or earning more money thanks to a promotion can be a relapse trigger as well.

    Your celebration for such success, like drinking or taking drugs, can lead to you reverting to old habits. You should plan sober activities in order to prevent you from celebrating with a beer, a joint, a line of cocaine, or a smoke of crack.

    Additionally, a new job or a promotion can lead to new responsibilities. Ditto with having a new baby, getting a Pulitzer Prize, or winning the lottery. Positive news can lead to a negative reaction and dealing with sudden changes. ​

    Your rehab experience should arm you with the skills needed to function and address stress without coping using drugs.

  9. Nostalgia for Substance Abuse: Addiction occurs because the consumption of alcohol or drugs makes you feel better in some way, whether it’s a serotonin or dopamine rush.

    Even though a recovering patient knows how bad their addiction is to them and their loved ones, it’s not uncommon to view their past with rose-tinted glasses or nostalgia.

    Dwelling or reminiscing about your drug-fueled past substance abuse is a bright red flag that you’re on the verge of relapse. Once you reach such a dangerous frame of mind, have your support system involved.​

    Talk to your sponsor, supportive friend, or counselor to help remind you why you’re under rehab and recovery in the first place

  10. Places and Situations Where Drugs Are Available: It’s not easy cutting off your alcohol or drug supply if the place you call your home is where they all originated. Alcohol is very difficult to avoid since it’s such a social drink.

    Many people can’t fathom the idea of being such a booze hound or alcoholic that they’d need rehab for it. These might crop up in events like the neighborhood potluck or office parties as well.

    Therefore, you should make a list of things, places, and people that significantly contribute as your suppliers and enablers for drug and alcohol abuse. They serve as triggers that will put you back into the wagon of alcoholism or drug addiction.

    Enlist the assistance of a sponsor, counselor, or friend to set down the triggers you might forget. Avoidance is key here.

Avoiding Relapse is the Key to a Full Recovery

It doesn’t matter what the cause is. When recovering from addiction, triggers are a natural phase of sobriety. You should expect them to happen and find ways to cope with them positively rather than negatively.

The key here is to identify them and resist the impulse to resort to drugs in order to deal with them without relapsing. You’ve been in rehab all this time in order to substitute more constructive activities as your means of addressing such triggers.

Why Miracles Asia Rehab Is Among The Best in Asian Rehab

Miracles Asia is among the best in Thailand for drug rehabilitation. This is because it assists even the most unprepared of patients in getting comfortable enough to mature into becoming a relapse-resistant individual.

There’s a reason why the renowned Miracles Asia boasts of 98 percent program completion among many of those who availed of its services. Contact us today to find out more.